Maqluba (Upside down eggplant and rice)

A feast for your eyes and belly, maqluba is a Syrian specialty for your special occasions. It can be made with beef or chicken using eggplants, or substitute with cauliflower or mushrooms and turn all upside down!


  • 1/2 pound stew meat (or any 1-inch chops of beef, lamb or chicken)
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1pound eggplants
  • 2 cups rice
  • Frying oil
  • 1/2-1 cup assorted nuts (pine nuts, cashews, almonds, etc.)
  • whole spices for stew meat (2 bay leaves, a couple of cloves and nutmeg). You can substitute with ground spices too. 
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or canola oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Add 4 cups of water to stew meat and boil for few minutes removing any froth that may come up. Then, add whole spices and season with salt and pepper and let simmer for 2-3 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and slice the eggplant (1/2 inch slices) and sprinkle with salt and leave for 1/2 hour to sweat. Wash with water and pat dry trying to get rid of as much moisture as possible. Then, fry with oil on high heat until golden brown and arrange on paper towels to absorb oil. If you are using cauliflower, you need to blanch it before frying.
  3. Boil two cups of water and add to the rice. Leave for 5 minutes then wash with cold water to get rid of starch.
  4. In a big pot, arrange stew meat then eggplant slices then rice and add 3 cups of stew meat stock and leave until they start to boil. Before the mixture dries out, turn the heat down to very low and leave for 25 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, brown the ground meat and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Fry the nuts with ghee or canola oil until fragrant and golden brown. Note that different nuts have different doneness times so it is better to fry them separately.
  7. When the rice is done, turn the whole pot upside down in a big dish. You will have layers of rice, eggplant and meat. Garnish with ground meat and top with nuts.
  8. Serve maqluba hot with Arabic salad, cucumber yogurt salad or Ayran yogurt.